Written by Dr. Thomas Davis Parks
Feb. 2 nd , 1878
Being the oldest, perhaps the only surviving grandson of Walter Davis, formerly of Rock Spring,
Augusta County, Virginia, and being urgently solicited by several of his descendents to write a
sketch of the history of our family extending, or rather beginning as far back as I have any
information I feel constrained to comply, although I have no data to refer to; no recourse but the
very imperfect one of an old man’s memory to rely upon. All the information I possess in
relation to our early ancestors is derived from conversation with my mother and with two of my
aunts, Aunt Reeves and Aunt Donly, and the last of these, my mother, Elizabeth Davis Parks,
passed away more than thirty-three years ago.
March 15, 1939
Retyped in Microsoft Word by Michael L. Wilson, Jan. 2007.
I made a very few corrections to obvious typographical errors.
I obtained a copy of this document from James M. Hotchkiss Jr. in Aug. 1999.
Updated in May 2018 to add a missing line, which I obtained from the
Katherine Gentry Bushman Papers, 1961-1997
(Accession 35743, Personal papers collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA).
A note in square brackets  is by me.
Robert Cunningham emigrated from Ireland to America early in the eighteenth century, probably
about 1720. From what county I cannot say, but certainly from the northern part of the island, as
he and all of his family were Presbyterians and are believed to be descendants from the
Cunninghams of Scotland.
He settled at Rock Spring, in Augusta County, Virginia, about 1735, at which time his daughter
Martha, our grandmother, was nine years old. He had two other daughters and I believe no son.
I am not able to give the maiden name of his wife, but previous to her marriage with Robert
Cunningham, she was the widow Hamilton, and the mother of several children, and if I am not
mistaken, one of her daughters married a William Campbell and was the mother of Gen. William
Campbell of King’s Mountain fame. Two of her daughters by Robert Cunningham also married
Campbells of the same family. One of these was Arthur Campbell of Campbell Station East
Tennessee, and the father of Gen. John Campbell a soldier in the War of 1812, and the
grandfather of William C. Campbell some twenty years ago Governor of Tennessee. The other
daughter of our ancestor Robert Cunningham also married a Campbell, some of whose
Descendants I knew in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, worthy and respectable men. From them
and from General John Campbell of Arkansas, I received a large portion of my information in
regard to the Campbell family.
I will now go back and say a few words in regard to the character and standing of Robert
Cunningham as derived from conversations with his granddaughters. When he settled in
Augusta County, it was almost a wilderness extending from the Blue Ridge as far west as white
people dwelt, and the savages roamed and hunted over the greater part of it at will. It therefore
required a man of nerve to settle down on a farm with a family, and cultivate it. Such a man was
Robert Cunningham; that he was among the most intelligent of the frontier men is evinced by the
fact that he was their representative in the House of Burgesses in the Colony of Virginia. And
there is a tradition in the family that at least on one occasion he was engaged in debate with the
Randolph of that day, and did not come off second best. I presume that he was a true Scotch
Irishman, rough but sure. As before remarked, Martha Cunningham was nine years old when her
father settled at Rock Spring, and at Rock Spring she resided until her death at about eighty years
of age. She was a woman of culture, so far as mental culture could be obtained in an almost
uncultivated wilderness. But although the early inhabitants of Augusta County were poor, they
had Scotch perseverance and Irish sprightliness, and although they had but few books and no
newspapers, they carried the Bible with them, and this was the basis of their philosophy, and
very successfully did Martha Cunningham study that best of books. I have often heard my
mother say that if any verse or passage of the Bible was repeated to her, my grandmother, she
would instantly name book, chapter, and verse, so perfect was her memory, and so diversified
that the neighbors relied on her for the ages of their children. She lived on the same spot from
childhood to old age, beloved and respected, and a blessing to all within the sphere of her
influence, and died lamented by all who knew her.
Walter Davis came to America between 1740 and 1750, and spent some time in trading with the
Indians northwest of the Ohio. He was of respectable family of the north of Ireland, which
traced its ancestry to Wales. I believe he was the youngest son of the family, but am not able to
state the Christian name of his father nor the maiden name of his mother, or in what country he
was bom, but he was a small man with sparkling black eyes, and most genial of spirit. In or
about the year of 1750, he married Martha Cunningham and settled at Rock Spring. Whether
great-grandfather died at this time, I cannot say. But I have always understood from my mother
and other members of the family that my grandfather Davis became the possessor of Rock
Spring soon after his marriage, and that all of his children were born on that place. Walter
Davis, as I said, was a man of genial spirit. So far as I know, he never held a civil office, but was
an elder in the Presbyterian Church, and exercised almost boundless influence throughout his
neighborhood. There was but little use for law or lawyers where he lived, for he managed to
settle all difficulties by the law of love. In short, I doubt not, he is in the enjoyment of the
blessings promised to the peacemaker. I think he was not an actual participant in the
Revolutionary struggle, although an ardent patriot, and heart and soul for the cause of Liberty.
He was then advanced in life, had a large family, and was bound to provide for it and protect it.
But he, no doubt, gave freely of his substance for the good cause; and his oldest son went into
the army. The others were too young. All who personally knew Walter Davis regarded him with
the utmost veneration and affection.
Margaret, the first child of Walter and Martha Davis, was bom in the year of 1751. She was
married about the year of 1776 to John Smith of Rockingham County; had two children,
Margaret Read and Daniel. Margaret was married when quite young to Alexander Herring, and
was the mother of a large and interesting family, John S., Martha D., William, Alexander, Daniel
Smith, Margaret Stevenson, Rebecca, and Ann. Margaret Herring was a most excellent woman,
like her mother was a favorite among her relations. Having lived in her family, I can speak of
her from personal knowledge. Although a cousin, she was to me a mother, her daughters,
sisterly and her sons, brotherly. But they have almost all passed away. In its first visitation to
this country, cholera cut off the greater part of the family. John had previously died of malaria
fever, contracted in the then marshy country west of the Tennessee, when he was engaged as
commissioner of the State of Virginia in locating the lands of her continental soldiers. Rebecca
had died with some disease incidental to children. Daniel entered West Point Academy in 1822,
and in due time graduated. I think third in his class. He entered the army as Lieutenant, and died
from disease contracted in the swamps of Florida during the Seminole War. All of the Herring
family in Ohio except the two youngest, Margaret Stevenson and Annie, were cut off by cholera
in 1832 or ’33. Martha married George Chrisman and remained in Virginia. Daniel Smith
studied law, and though not brilliant, he stood high as a lawyer. At about thirty years of age, he
ran as a Republican against Jacob Swope, a Federalist, and though a very popular man, suffered
defeat as a consequence of the strength of the Federal party in the district. He was a great
favorite among his relations on account of his ardent attachment to all who partook of his blood.
Indeed, so strong was his family attachment that it extended even to the inanimate objects; so
that, if he found any utensil, however homely, that had belonged to Grandfather or Grandmother,
he would buy it at any price and lay it up as a souvenir. Not long after his defeat as a candidate
for Congress, he was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court in Virginia, and continued on the
bench until late in life, highly respected for his profound legal knowledge and clearness of
judgment. He lived to the age of 77 or 78.
The second child of Walter and Martha Davis was Martha, born about 1754. At about seventeen
years old, she married William Long, who in little more than a year after his marriage died,
leaving her a very young widow with one child, a boy, William Long, who died at about twenty
years of age. Some years after the death of William Long, his widow was married to Daniel
Smith, brother of John Smith, her sister’s husband. With him she lived a number of years, and
was the mother of three children, who all, with their father, Uncle John, and a large portion of the
Smith family, died of an epidemic fever then prevailing, and Martha was a second time left a
widow. In the year 1782 she was married to Brewer Reeves. The children of this marriage were
six, - Richard, who died in infancy, Margaret who died at fifteen or sixteen, Benjamin Harrison,
Archibald Stuart, Otway Curry, and Willis Long, and all but Archibald married and raised
families. B. H. Reeves was well known both in Kentucky and Missouri. At the death of her
husband, about 1798, Martha Reeves was left a widow in a wild country, for they had a few
years before emigrated to Christian County in Kentucky, at that time almost a wilderness, with
here and there an inhabitant. Often they were for weeks if not months without bread. I have
heard her say sometimes they had to send to Nashville, sixty miles off, for meal; flour was a
luxury rarely enjoyed in those days. I have heard her say it was not uncommon to use venison
for bread and the flesh of the bear for meat. Brewer Reeves did not leave his wife destitute of
means. She had lands, some slaves, and home comforts, such as a wild country could afford, but
an unfortunate security for a friend who proved recreant, left her at the mercy of a relentless and
cruel creditor, who took from her all the slaves and personal property, leaving her destitute. The
land could not be sold for debt at that time. But she did not sink under the strike; her energies
were aroused, and with what help she could obtain from her rude but kind neighbors, she
managed to raise and educate so far as that rude country would allow, her four boys. - her
daughter died not long after her husband. I may here remark that but a short time previous to the
death of Mr. Reeves, her brother James Davis (her only brother in Kentucky) had died; and that
being doubly, trebly bereaved, an ordinary woman would have sunk to the level of all around
her. Not so with Martha Reeves, although educated so far as she could be said to be educated in
Augusta County, Virginia, when it was a frontier, almost a wilderness. She had studied in the
best of schools, - from the age of thirteen she had read her Bible as regularly as the sun set, and
was then taught to improve the many severe lessons of afflictions which she received through her
long life. Had I the pen of a ready writer, I would give a page to the character of my dear Aunt
Reeves; as it is I can only give a scant summary of her eventful life.
Bom in Augusta County when a frontier, subject to the (1754) invasion of savages, destitute of
schools except of the most ordinary classes, a widow with an infant boy after a little more than a
year of married life, a few years later married again and again a widow, having buried her second
husband and three children, married again - removed to the southern wilderness of Kentucky,
where her third husband, her favorite brother, (I say, favorite, because he was the favorite of the
whole family) and her only daughter, just budding into womanhood, were in a few brief months
buried, - and she bereft of the property which would at least have secured personal comfort for
her family, by the ruthless creditor of a man for whom her husband stood surety.
Her oldest living (for her oldest, William Long, a favorite in his grandfather’s family, and of all
who knew him, had died years before at about the age of twenty) son was not more than ten or
twelve years old, and the oldest son of her brother was still younger, her sister-in-law not able to
give her any assistance or even judicious advice, yet under all these difficulties, afflictions, and
privations her courage and trust in God never forsook her. She managed to raise her family in a
respectable manner and to have them at least as well educated as any of those around them; so
that when they grew to manhood they took their stand on a level with the most cultivated of their
company. When Aunt Reeves was about sixty-three years old, I sixteen, I was privileged to
make her acquaintance. I had been in the society of ladies before and often since; and now I can
look back on the varied scenes that have passed before my vision, and contemplate the characters
of the many excellent and refined ladies whom I have known, I can truly say that she who had
passed her life on the frontier and in the wilderness, was in all that constitutes the true woman
and the refined lady, the peer of the best. The privilege of intercourse with that dear old lady
continued at that time but two years, for in 1818, before the first land sales in Boon’s Lick
country, she and her son Benjamin removed to Howard County Missouri, again on the frontier.
Some nine years afterwards, I came to Missouri, and had the privilege of spending much time in
her company, and continued to visit her, I believe every year till the close of her life, at the ripe
age of eighty-six, and still found her the same cheerful, trusting, loving, intelligent Christian
woman, respected and beloved by all who knew her. One fact more I will state, Clergymen of
different denominations, of fine mental culture who visited her, admired her for her general
intelligence, and were even astonished at her for the amount of her scriptural knowledge.
I said B. H. Reeves was well known both in Kentucky and Missouri. Before the death of Aunt
Sallie Ewin, (of whom I shall speak more particularly) she requested him, (then about eighteen
or nineteen years old) as the oldest and most experienced of the little band of cousins in the far,
far west, to carry her little daughter Jeannetta to her sister Margaret Smith, that she might be a
mother to her orphan child. Faithfully did Ben Reeves perform the task, but Jeannetta was never
to see her Aunt Smith. The two sisters were sick about the same time and neither knew of the
death of the other till they met on the Shining Shore. Smith, then a practicing lawyer, gladly
assumed the duty of educating his young cousin. On his way to Virginia, B. H. Reeves visited
his Aunt Donly, and made such progress in winning the affections of her daughter, his cousin
Martha, that on his way back they were married, and he surprised his mother, bringing a wife
home with him. He was not twenty years old; his wife a year or two older. This was in 1806;
and in 1812 the war with Great Britain was commenced and a company was speedily raised in
Christian County, notwithstanding its sparse population. For the captaincy there were two
candidates, B. H. Reeves and Ben Patten, a young lawyer of great promise and remarkably fine
personal appearance, residing in Hopkinsville, the county seat. Before the close of the campaign,
he attained to a majority. Before the termination, his services were called for in the Fegislature
of the state, and again Mr. Patten was his competitor, and again Reeves was the successful
candidate. From this time until 1818 (when he removed to Missouri) he represented Christian
County in the Fegislature. Emigrating to Missouri in 1818, he was a member of the convention
which enacted the first constitution of the State, and represented the County of Howard, (in
which he settled) as long as it remained a Whig County, until after the election of J. Q. Adams to
the Presidency of the United States, when Howard County, being a strong Jackson man county,
he was left in the minority. His wife, Martha Donly, died in the spring of 1835. They had five
children, who lived to maturity; William Fong, Clark Davis, Jeannetta, Mary Elizabeth and
Benjamin; and some three or four who died in infancy. Clark married, but died soon after his
mother, leaving one daughter, Ellen.
Archibald S. Reeves died unmarried at about thirty years of age. Otway C. Reeves married and
raised a large family. He died many years ago in Kentucky.
After the death of his wife, B. H. Reeves went back to Kentucky, leaving his mother with his
daughter Jeannetta, then the wife of the late Judge Feonard. He married and resided there until
Some time after Col. Reeves’ return to Kentucky, he married Virginia Cross, widow of George
Cross. They had three children, two daughters and one son. Col. Reeves died April 16, 1849;
his wife not long afterwards. He was at the time of his death a member of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church. Willis Long Reeves, the youngest son of Brewer and Martha Reeves, was
placed in the clerk’s office at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, with James McLaughlin, an experienced
clerk and a good lawyer, when a youth, remained with him for several years, acquiring a fine
character for business habits and faithfulness in office, and when Todd County was organized
from parts of Christian and Logan, (1820) he received the appointment of Clerk of the Circuit
Court, which he held for many years, and was highly esteemed for his integrity and accuracy in
the discharge of the duties of his office. He was married three times, first to Susan Phillips, with
whom he lived happily for some years and had children (1). After her death, he married Mary
Harrison, widow of Carter Harrison and daughter of Haden Edwards of Texas; and after her
death, Mrs. Conly, widow of Dr. Conly and daughter of William Wilson near Russellville. He
died about 1867 or ’68, aged about seventy-three years. Years before his death, he professed
faith in the Redeemer and became an active member of the C. P. Church. I believe his brother
Otway had also united with the Church previous to his death.
The third child of Walter and Martha Davis was Euphemia, who married Charles Donly. Of her
early life I have not much information, except that she was a cheerful, amiable, and merry girl.
She married when my mother was quite a child and of course she could tell but little of the girl¬
hood of her sister Euphy. I think, however, that she was one of the few of the family that had
taste and talent for song. At an early period in the settlement of Kentucky, Uncle Donly and
Uncle James Davis and perhaps Uncle Reeves removed from Virginia to Lincoln County,
Kentucky. Uncle Donly settled in that country on the Hanging fork of Dick River, about four
miles from the town of Stanford. There he died some years afterwards, leaving his wife and
seven children, four daughters and three sons, and these she brought up to be men and women.
Lincoln County was inhabited by those who had spent their early life in the wilderness, for the
most part, consequently educational advantages were slender and manners rude. Of course their
circumstances had their influence on the Donlys, yet by the prudence and energy of their mother,
they grew up to be respectable men and women, with such education as the common schools of
that rude country could give. Her sons she put out with respectable men to learn trades. James
and Charles were carpenters, William a tanner. The third daughter, Sallie, died when young.
The eldest, Mary, - Polly she was usually called, - being of serious disposition and industrious
habits, was a great help and comfort to her mother, did not marry till she was near thirty years
old; when she married Benjamin Givens, an excellent man and a widower with four children to
whom she was truly a mother. She took her mother (whose family had found homes in distant
parts of the State) to live with her, and she found a pleasant home with her.
Some four or five years after my cousin’s marriage, my father moved to Kentucky, and spent the
first winter in Lincoln County. I then became acquainted with my Aunt Euphemia. I found her a
most genial and affectionate old lady near sixty years old, and from that time till near the close of
her life, I was often with her, sometimes for months in the same house. She was a most amiable
woman, cheerful and happy, fond of reading, and her temper uniformly good. I don’t think that
in my acquaintance with her I ever saw the least manifestation of fretfulness or anger. In the
year of 1819, Mr. Givens moved to Missouri. Aunt started with them they stopped for a few
days at my father’s, who lived in Christian County, Kentucky. She being not well and very
much fatigued concluded to remain with my mother until Mr. Givens would be settled. She
remained there that winter, in which her son, William Donly, residing in Russellville, was
married. He took her to live with him; she continued to remain until her death. She died in
Russellville, I think about 1821, at the age of sixty-six. Of her daughters I have said that Martha
married B. H. Reeves, raised a large family, and died in 1835. Although her education was
limited, she was a lady of vigorous mind and performed well her part in rearing her family and as
a member of society. She was a devoted wife and an affectionate and careful mother, who
guided well her numerous household. I say numerous, because she had under her care a number
of servants as well as children.
The youngest daughter [Margaret] of my Aunt Donly married her cousin, Watts D. Ewin, of
whom I have occasion to write hereafter. She was an amiable and affectionate girl, beloved
among her cousins, and after marriage a loving wife and mother. She was affected by the death
of her oldest son Charles when ten or twelve years old, and her only daughter Euphemia, when
just budding into womanhood. She survived her husband, and lived beyond her three score years
James Donly lived at Burksville, Kentucky, till after his marriage with Miss Martha Stockton, a
most excellent lady, who died within less than two years after giving birth to their only child, a
son. He never married again, but spent his time alternately in Missouri and Kentucky, until his
son had arrived at manhood he settled in Texas, where he died, at what time I am not informed.
William Donly carried on the tanning business in Russellville, Kentucky for some time
successfully, during which time he married Mary Stuart, niece of his brother James’ wife, and
also of Judge Archibald Stuart of Staunton, Virginia. She was a beautiful and amiable young
lady and made him an excellent wife. He was married in 1820. There was a great struggle then
in Kentucky business circles. It was the time of Commonwealth paper, etc., and not many years
afterwards he found it necessary to change his business. He moved to Cumberland County and
about the year of 1830 or 1831 was killed by the falling of a large beam connected with some
machinery which he and his wife’s uncle were erecting at Salt Works. He left several children,
the oldest not more than ten years old, with their young mother. Their subsequent history I have
not learned. Charles Donly never married; he died, I think at New Orleans, probably of Cholera
in the year 1833.
The fourth child of Walter and Martha Davis was a son, James. He was a great favorite with his
sisters, and I believe with the whole family. He was a noble, generous, and enterprising man,
successful in acquiring property, and free to spend it on deserving objects, - particularly
generous towards his sisters and brothers. His father at one time gave him or sold him the Rock
Spring Farm, at that time not much improved. Afterwards when he saw prospects of success in
the west he returned it to his father without price, that he might have it for settlement of another
of his family. He married Deborah Miller, whose father at an early period had gone to Kentucky,
acquired titles to considerable quantities of land, and died there, leaving his wife with two
children, this daughter and son. These circumstances drew the attention of Uncle James to the
then far west. I should have stated that he had served one campaign at least in the War of the
Revolution, and had acquired a taste for adventure. Soon after his marriage, he went to
Kentucky accompanied by his brother-in-law Donly and their families, also his wife’s brother
Abram Miller, then a boy. Whether Brewer Reeves went this time or later, I cannot say.
However, James Davis and Charles Donly with their families emigrated at an early period to
Lincoln County, Kentucky, in which the land located by Mr. Miller lay. Donly as I stated,
settled by Mr. Miller, and as I have understood, turned the larger portion of them over to Abram
Miller, and soon afterwards proceeded farther west to Christian County, where he settled. I
believe he represented that county in Legislature, and at the time of his death, which occurred not
many years subsequent, was surveyor of the county, at that time a very profitable office, but his
premature death deprived him of the advantages to be expected from it. He left a widow and five
children, the oldest not much if any beyond ten. William Cunningham, Elizabeth, Sallie, Martha,
and Abram. Abram died when a youth of eighteen or twenty. Martha married a man named
Elliot and died soon afterwards, - childless. The other three lived to have families. William was
a most estimable man, beloved and respected by all who knew him. He was nearly of the age
with his cousin B. H. Reeves, but he had not the turn for public business or the attractive address
which the latter possessed, but was a man of good business capacity, enterprising and deeply
interested in the general welfare of the country. He was a man whose influence was felt in the
community in which he lived. When about twenty-five years of age, he married Miss Anne
North, a lady much younger than himself. They had six daughters, the youngest an infant at the
time of his death, which occurred in the spring of 1826 from pneumonia. William Cunningham
Davis was a warm-hearted, sincere, generous friend and an affectionate relative.
Elizabeth Davis married Isaac Clark, a respectable and worthy man. Their family consisted of a
son (Isaac) and two daughters, Deborah, and Sallie all of whom married. Sallie Davis married
Robert Harrison, also a respectable and worthy man. They raised a large family, but I am not
able to even give their names.
The fourth daughter and fifth child of our grandparents was Sallie, born about the year of 1760.
She was somewhat distinguished in the family, and I believe, in the circle in which she moved,
for intellectuality and intelligence. I presume that she was gifted with conversational powers. I
have heard Alexander Herring, the husband of my Cousin Margaret Smith, say that he
considered Aunt Reeves her equal in good sense, but not able to express her ideas so clearly.
This I consider high praise for I was permitted to enjoy the society of Aunt Reeves in her old
age, and even then I esteemed her a fine talker, and so she was esteemed by intellectual and
literary persons who knew her. Aunt Sallie certainly enjoyed opportunities of mental culture
which were not attainable, at least to the same extent by any other members of the family. In the
year of 1776, that remarkable man and devoted minister of God, James Waddell, came to
Augusta County, Virginia, and was settled as pastor over Tinkling Spring Church. Of this
church our grandfather was a ruling elder. Mr. Waddell lived within about three miles of him.
Of course intimate intercourse immediately sprang up between the families. At this time my
Aunts Smith, Reeves, and Donly were all married. My Uncle James was probably absent in the
army, but Aunt Sallie was just budding into early womanhood with the warm affections and
sprightly intellect. It is easy to imagine the influence of his rare eloquence and of the society of a
refined intelligent family on a girl of that age and character. Her life and character evince that
she improved those rare advantages. She acquired a reputation for general intelligence and
conversational powers far above the common standard of the ladies of that time. She married
John Ewin of Rockingham County. They removed to Kentucky some years afterwards, probably
intending to settle in Christian County where James Davis and Brewer Reeves had previously
gone. But Mr. Ewin sickened and died in Hardin County, leaving his wife and three children;
Henry Clayton, Watts Davis, and Jeanetta. I am not able to say much about Uncle Ewin. He
was of respectable family, and was I think employed in the clerk’s office in Rockingham County.
Aunt Ewin after the death of her husband managed (I suppose by the assistance of her brother) to
reach the neighborhood of her brother and sister, and secure a home for herself and children.
First that brother, so dear to them all, fell a victim, then the remaining brother-in-law, and the
two sisters and sister-in-law were left with their children, the oldest scarcely more than twelve
years, in that rude uncultivated country. But although the scattered inhabitants were rough in
manner, many of them had large hearts.
I will put the name of one in this brief sketch, Edward Davis, the father of the late Col. Joe Davis
of Howard County, who proved a true and unfailing friend to those bereaved and lonely widows.
Aunt Ewin continued to live on her farm with her three children until the year of 1806, when she
was taken from them. By her request, Jeannetta was sent to Virginia to be educated under the
care of her aunt Smith. But when Jeannetta arrived, Aunt Smith too was dead, and her son
Daniel Smith took charge of her education. He sent her to a celebrated school at Winchester
where she remained one or two years, and returning to Augusta, made her home with Uncle
William Davis, until she married Edward Hall, son of Maj. Alexander Hall, and nephew of Judge
Archibald Stuart, who brought her to Kentucky, and they settled on her mother’s old farm where
they raised their family.
Henry C. Ewin went to Nashville, Tennessee, and lived with his cousin, clerk of the court of that
place; and became an accomplished clerk. He married a Miss Hill in Tennessee, an amiable and
good woman, returned to Kentucky, and settled on land which he owned in Christian (now Todd)
County. Watts Davis Ewin, about a year after the death of his mother, went to Virginia and lived
with Uncle William Davis, except the time necessary to acquire a knowledge of the saddling
business, which he did in the village of Greenville with a Mr. Beard. After the termination of his
apprenticeship, he returned to Kentucky and commenced business at the place where the village
of Trenton now is. He did not however continue long in this business, but married his cousin
Margaret Donly and settled on a farm. In the spring of 1818, in company with B. H. Reeves, he
removed to Missouri and made a farm two or three miles from the place where the town of
Fayette now is, on which he resided the remainder of his life. His oldest son Charles, died when
ten or twelve years old, his daughter Euphemia at about fifteen. His surviving sons, William the
eldest and Watts the youngest, have families and live in Pettis County; they are respectable men.
John, James, and Henry live in Howard County; they and their families are respectable.
About the year of 1762 or ’63 Walter and Martha Davis had a daughter born who in early
infancy was subject to epilepsy, by which her reasoning powers were dethroned, and she became
a charge to her family. By his will, her father set apart a fund to be put at interest for her
support. The fund was ample, and her brother William, who was executor of his father’s will,
took charge of her until her death; which did not occur until the year of 1825.
William Davis the next in succession in the family, (if I mistake not) was born December 8,
1765. I can speak of him from my own recollection, have been familiar with him from my
earliest infancy until near fifteen years old; and an inmate of his family and participant of his
generous hospitality and affectionate kindness for more than six months, after I was a man. At
an early age he married Annie Caldwell, a scion of the good old Scotch-Irish stock, and worthy
of her husband. They settled at Red Rock Spring soon after their marriage; and there they lived
beloved and respected by all who knew them, until separated by her death about the year of 1835
or ’36. And he continued to dwell in the same house until his death at the mature age of eighty-
They had three children, Walter, born in 1791, William Caldwell, 1791, and Martha Ann, 1803.
William Davis was a warmhearted, affectionate man and particularly so to those of his own kith
and Kin. He had a turn for public business. At my earliest recollection he was overseer of the
poor, in which office he continued until late in life. He was also for many years justice of the
peace, and afterwards High Sheriff of Augusta County. In these offices he was faithful to his
duties, and the poor of the county went with all of their complaints, as to a father. He was a kind
neighbor, and hospitable to strangers. He was remarkable for his abstemious habits never tasted
ardent spirits and detested tobacco in all of its forms. He kept a good table, but his own diet was
very simple. His son Walter married Rebecca Van Lear. They settled close by him at the Red
Rock Spring, where they spent the remainder of their lives, Walter dying at the age of seventy-
nine, his wife some years before him. They raised a family of three daughters and two sons, all
of whom except one (Columbus) have passed away, leaving I believe no issue.
William C. Davis was married when very young to Sallie Van Lear, sister to Walter’s wife.
They were married before Walter. William was an enterprising business man; and having an
excellent partner in his wife for a considerable number of years he prospered greatly in his native
state; but meeting with serious reverses about the year of 1836 or ’37, he resolved to try the far
west, and in ’38 he came to Missouri with very limited means and a large family. A few years
afterwards he settled in Saline County, where by skillful industry and skillful farming, he
acquired a handsome competency. And when called away in April 1857, at the age of sixty-
three, he was free from debt and left considerable property to his children. His wife survived
him some eighteen or twenty years. Their family consisted of seven sons, James Robinson,
Jacob Van Lear, William, Daniel Smith, Andrew Alexander Arbuckle, Burrus Kincaid, and John
Boyden, and two daughters, Martha Jane and Margaret Annie. These all survived him except the
last named, who died unmarried at about the age of twenty years. Of the survivors and their
families, as they are as well known to their relations generally as to me, I shall say nothing.
Martha Ann Davis, about twenty-one, was married to Dr. Andrew Alexander Arbuckle, a young
physician of great promise, but was left a widow within a few years. She afterwards married
Robert Steele, a merchant in the village of Greenville, Augusta County, who after years of
prosperity failed and came to Missouri. He was many years older than she, and when he came to
Missouri too far advanced in life to recuperate his fortunes, although a man of untiring energy
and industry. He settled in Johnson County, in the fall of 1837; rented for a year or two, then
entered land and improved a farm for himself. After coming to Missouri and engaging in more
laborious business than he had been accustomed to, Mr. Steele was subject to frequent attacks of
intermitting fever, and his family growing, he felt the necessity of better schools than Johnson
County afforded, as well as a business better adapted to his advanced age than farming.
Accordingly, he sold out in Johnson and removed to Lexington, where he died in 1844. Martha
Ann Steele was then left a widow with four children, she had lost one in Johnson County, and I
believe one in Virginia. Her surviving children were Annie, William T., Martha A., and Rosa.
She remained in Lexington until the education of her children was well advanced. She then
removed to Warrensburg, William engaging in the practice of law. After the war, she removed
to Otterville, Cooper County, subsequently to Texas, and died in or near Fort Worth, where I
believe her three surviving children still live.
Elizabeth, my mother, the eighth child of Walter and Martha (C) Davis, was born September
30 th , 1770, married Joseph Parks, a gentleman from Pennsylvania, then a resident of Virginia,
24 th of July 1795. Their children were James, born January 11 th , 1798, Thomas Davis, Bom
December 8 th , 1799, Philander, bom January 28 th , 1802, and died in infancy, Walter Davis, bom
November 10 th , 1803, William Augustus, born February 26 th , 1806, Rebecca Clark, August 8 th ,
1808, Martha Cunningham, born November 10 th , 1810. Rebecca C. died September 2 nd , 1815,
aged seven years. William A., the 6 th of the same month, Joseph Parks moved from Augusta
county, Virginia, to Lincoln County, Kentucky, in the autumn of 1814; undetermined whether to
settle permanently in the northern or southern part of the State, remained there until the spring,
(1815) went into Mercer County, then in the spring, of 1816, settled in Christian County on
Montgomery Creek, a branch of the West fork of the Red River, residing there till his death,
September 11 th , 1825, from which time his wife Elizabeth remained a widow till her death in
October, 1844, making her home with her son James till he removed to Illinois in 1833 or ’34.
She then made her home with her daughter Martha, now residing in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, till
her death. She was active and helpful while she lived, one of whom it could not be said she
outlived her usefulness. My Father, Joseph Parks, though never known in public life, was a man
of good judgment, persevering industry, and unvarying amiability, having in all my life never
heard him utter a dozen impatient words, and never petulant, but always kind, genial, and
cheerful. James the oldest son married Mary B. Harland July 24, 1821, in Christian County,
Kentucky, where he resided till the fall of 1833 or ’34 when he removed to Macoupin County,
Illinois, where he died July 13, 1835, leaving a widow and seven children, the oldest but thirteen
years of age, Sarah Elizabeth, still unmarried, Ann Rebecca, who married Wm. H. Edwards;
John Vance, who died aged about twenty-one months; Augusta, married to Joseph Trabue, Mary
Jane, who married Robert D. Quigley; Thomas Walter, who died aged between twenty-one and
twenty-two, and Letitia James, who married E. G. W. Quigley, Mrs. Anne Edwards children are
James Wm. Edwards, Marly L. married Gurton, Bessie J. Married Randolph, Susan Eudora, Kate
Augusta, and Charles Ernest. Mrs. M. L. Trabue’s children are Mary Lizzie, Bennie, James,
Annie Letitia, Edward Martha, Agnes and Josephint Augusta. Mrs. Mary J. Quigley’s children
are Walter Somers, Robert Parks, Jessie Eadelia, and Minnie (Mary). Mrs. L. J. Quigley’s
children are Thomas, James Malcolm, Ella E. Willie, and John.
Thomas Parks studied medicine under Dr. Gall, and Attended lectures at the Transylvania
University, Lexington, Kentucky. In 1828 he came to Missouri, and in 1830 (April 22) he
married S. L. Hartt, daughter of Dr. C. C. Hartt, of Boonville, Mo. Their children were Elizabeth
D. Joseph, Maria, H. C., George H., Martha C., James, Thomas D., Walter D., and Sarah L. In
1855, Elizabeth D. married W. W. Kennedy, and lived till March 12 th , 1864, when she died,
leaving four children, Mary Louisa, Sudie B. David P., and Mattie J. H. Ten years afterwards,
W. W. Kennedy died leaving the children with their grandfather Parks, where they had lived
since a year before their mother’s death. In June Sudie B. Kennedy married Samuel T. Dysart,
and died November 20 th of the same year. Joseph, oldest son of Thomas Parks, died at the age of
fourteen, though so young had established a character for punctuality and thoughtful attention to
business, was studious and intelligent, unusual at his age. George Hart, the second son, died at
eight years of age, having given evidence of sincere piety during his year’s illness. Thomas
Davis Parks entered the army from a sense of duty in defense of his country’s laws, at the age of
nineteen, and died the following spring, and now sleeps in Pisgah Churchyard.
Walter Davis, fourth son of Joseph and Elizabeth Parks, married Mary Park in Elkton, Kentucky,
September, 1829. He was then assistant in the clerk’s office, Willis Reeves being clerk of both
the circuit and county courts. Their children were Joseph Reeves, Letitia, Martha Jane, John
Hamilton, James Thomas, Lizzie Davis, Walter Davis, Mary, David Henry, Samuel Park, and
Wm. Harvey Parks. Shortly after his marriage he moved to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and went
into the mercantile business remained there till June 1835, when he moved to Illinois, where his
two brothers James and Thomas had settled, all desiring to free their slaves and settle in a free
state. Illness in all of the families and throughout the country caused Dr. Thomas Parks and
Walter Parks to leave the state, the former returning to Missouri in 1838, the latter to Nashville,
Tennessee, in the spring or summer of 1836, residing there two or three years, then settled in
Memphis, and family moved to Washington County, Arkansas, in the autumn of 1849, still
engaged in mercantile business, lived there till his death, January 1850, leaving a widow and
seven surviving children - Letitia dying in infancy, also James Thomas, and David Harvey,
Joseph R. Parks married, and was killed by the Indians in the early part of the Civil War,
sacrificing his life in compliance with his mother-in-law’s imperative entreaties to go for a
physician for her son, having been paroled within the bounds of his farm and neighborhood.
Years elapsed before his remains were found buried under rock and brush in a deep ravine. He
left two girls, Mary B. and Martha Jane, with their widowed mother. Martha Jane Parks married
Wm. Spicy of Dardewell, Arkansas, he dying during the Civil War, and she a few years later
leaving four children, Mary Lizzie, Speight, Martha Jane, and Robert. John Hamilton, Lzzie J.,
Walter D., Mary (O’Brien) Sam, and Harvey Parks are all married at the present date, 1881.
Martha C. Parks, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Davis) Parks was married to Wm. Harvey
Moore at the residence of her brother James Parks, in 1833. Harvey Moore was a thorough
scholar, and had a remarkable memory, reciting whole pages from Scott’s and other poems,
without an apparent effort to commit them to memory. Their children were William H.,
Elizabeth Davis, Mary Agnes, Thomas Parks, three last dying in childhood and youth; Thomas at
fifteen, remarkably amiable and intellectual, Walter, Henry, Martha, Agnes, and Mary Elizabeth.
Henry married, and in 1879 died at Memphis of yellow fever; Martha Agnes married Mr.
Mitchell, after a brief year of happiness, died - the beautiful, gifted and accomplished idol of
husband, mother, brothers, and sisters, leaving her infant daughter, Agnes, to her sister’s care.